REVIEW: Ranfield's Brasserie in Coggeshall
PUBLISHED: 16:06 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:01 09 January 2020
Stephanie Mackentyre visits this 2AA rosette brasserie as part of her series reviewing Essex's top eateries
Ranfields is a 2AA rosette brasserie which won the title last year of Restaurant of the Year in the British Restaurant awards organised by Chelsea magazine. John Ranfield worked with former chef/owner Mark Bauman and took over ownership in 2015.
The Essex brasserie has plenty of nods to French cuisine on the menu and with an impressive haul of awards I was intrigued to find out more.
The restaurant offers an a la carte menu with true foodie-pleasing dishes including roasted Alsbury duck breast, served with confit potato, roasted asparagus, wild mushroom, celeriac and flageolet.
There's also a menu du jour and a separate vegetarian menu with dishes including green chilli enchilada quesadilla, with cherry tomato, lime and coriander salad served with sour cream.
So, with a glass of New Chevallier Georges 2018 French Chardonnay in hand I was checking out all the menus when the waitress arrived with a mini smoked salmon 'ice cream' in a tiny cone as an appetizer.
The starter on the menu du jour was perhaps for the most robust of French food fans, featuring frogs legs served with a yuzu mayo.
You can opt for two or three courses, so we chose the two-course option and began instead with a selection of warm butter breads from the a la carte menu, which were really very good - one topped with fresh garlic, one cheese and bacon and the other basil paste.
Then we hopped (sorry!) straight onto our main courses of roasted Colne Valley lamb chop with sunblushed tomato, mint and pepper giant cous cous.
The aroma of juicy local lamb wafted pleasingly from the plate and the rather bland looking cous cous was actually really well seasoned and tasted so good you could have had that as a meal in itself.
The dish was complemented by a rich lamb jus which brought the two elements together.
The wine list includes not only French wines, but South African, New Zealand, Australian, Italian and even a Tuffon Hall Pinot Noir Rose 2016, from nearby Castle Hedingham, all supplied by Peter Watts Wines.
The restaurant has an eclectic choice of art adorning every wall space, all compiled by the original owner, the late Peter Langan, who founded it in 1986 as a regional outpost of Langan's Brasserie.
The characterful building has a traditional feel with smart white linen clothed tables, yet it's also relaxed and the staff work hard to make you feel very at home. There's no parking on site but there is limited parking on the street outside.
There was only one choice per course on the menu du jour, so for dessert it was Belgium waffle with chocolate sauce and banana cream.
It was another generous portion, attractively presented with fresh strawberries and raspberries - all rather yummy.
Petit fours & against
To be applauded: The portion sizes.
Prefer less of: Veal and frogs legs, but that's just a personal choice.
Worthy of note: There's also a small bar area for pre-dinner drinks.
Who would enjoy this place: Anyone who loves really good food in a classically French yet relaxed environment.
I wish I'd also tried: The monkfish, Devon crab mash, lobster, chorizo and sweet bell pepper bisque.
Worth returning for: Home-smoked duck breast with beetroot and goats cheese croquette and marinated orange.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £56.60 for two courses for two people including drinks. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
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The Ranfield's Brasserie, 4-6 Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, CO6 1TT